February 19, 2024

9 minutes read

How to Create and Organize a Service Catalog for IT


Andrew Graf

A service catalog initiative can be deceptive. At first glance, it seems like a simple process of listing all the services your organization offers to customers and then using the document to display those services as a menu. However, building a service catalog is sometimes a little more complicated than that.

Your catalog can make or break you, and a well-organized catalog can set your system up for a healthy and strong performance, assisting activities throughout the organization. As an IT leader, your ability to set this foundational change is easier than you might think, and while it can be complicated, you can be sure that with a few key steps, you’ll have others asking how to create a successful service catalog like yours.

What is a Service Catalog?

Before we get into the basics of creating a service catalog, we need to first understand what it is.

A service catalog is a comprehensive list of IT services offered by an organization to its customers or end-users. It provides a structured and standardized approach to service management and enables customers to easily request, track and monitor the services they need.

The service catalog contains information about the services offered, service-level agreements (SLAs), pricing, support procedures and other relevant details.

How to Create a Service Catalog

Balancing the needs of stakeholders, determining the proper language (technical vs. customer-facing) in which the catalog will be written, and where the catalog will be displayed are just a few things to consider.

Some would say that a service catalog is an internal document that is merely a list of services, whether those services are current, retired, or currently being planned for release. A more contemporary understanding of the service catalog is a customer-facing document that lists all of the services that are available from you.

A few critical things to consider when creating this document are:

  • Balancing the needs of stakeholders.
  • Determining the proper language in which the catalog will be written (technical vs. customer-facing).
  • Where the catalog will be displayed.

Creating Service Catalog Categories

Let’s assume that we are going to build a service catalog that will act as a stakeholder-facing document to some degree. In this case, the first step is to define your service catalog categories.

Think of a clothing store and how it is split up into different departments for menswear, women’s wear, and shoes, among others. Such a layout makes it easy for customers to navigate the store and find what they need.

A similar structure can be applied when it comes to choosing service catalog categories. It is helpful to start with a list of services you currently offer, group them thematically and then create service catalog categories based on those groupings.

The service catalog categories you create will allow you to refine and define your services and where they belong within your service catalog.

Once you have used categories to group your services, you can use them to identify more services that you want to offer as an organization. The exercise will invariably add to and fill out your list of service offerings creating a more complete, customer-centric range of services.

After defining your service catalog categories, it is important that each one has supporting information that explains its purpose. This helps users understand what the service catalog categories are meant to accomplish, who it is offered to, and any other vital details such as associated costs or required approvals. It is also essential to determine which service catalog categories might be available to which audiences in your organization.

Understanding which services can be requested by each of your audiences will lead you to decisions about where and how to publish your service catalog, allowing you to start thinking about integrating continuous service improvement models within your overarching service model.

At this point, you will most likely want to assign ownership of services to people in your organization who are then responsible for ensuring their service catalog categories, as displayed, are up to date and correct.

Even if your organization already has a service catalog as part of your IT Service Management structure, it might be worth revisiting. There are always ways to improve the user experience.

5 Benefits of Having a Service Catalog for IT Service Management

Here are five benefits of having a service catalog for IT Service Management:

  1. Increased transparency: With a service catalog, customers and end-users have a clear understanding of the services that are available to them, along with their associated costs, SLAs and support procedures. This transparency can help build trust and confidence in the IT organization and lead to better communication between IT and the business.
  2. Improved service quality: The service catalog provides a standardized approach to service management, ensuring that all services are delivered consistently and to a high quality. This consistency can help improve the customer experience and reduce the risk of service disruptions or downtime.
  3. Better resource management: The service catalog can help IT organizations better understand the resources required to deliver each service, including personnel, infrastructure and technology. This insight can help organizations allocate resources more effectively and optimize their IT service delivery.
  4. Enhanced self-service: A well-designed service catalog can provide customers and end-users with a self-service portal where they can request and track services, view service histories and access support resources. This self-service functionality can help improve customer satisfaction and reduce the workload on IT staff.
  5. Improved governance and compliance: The service catalog provides a framework for managing IT services in a consistent and compliant manner. This can help IT organizations meet regulatory and compliance requirements and reduce the risk of non-compliance penalties. Additionally, the service catalog can provide auditors with a clear understanding of the IT services being provided and the associated risks and controls.

The Importance of Easy-to-Use ITSM for Service Catalog Success

Before TeamDynamix ITSM, the State University of New York (SUNY), Brockport, was using an ITSM system that was cumbersome and hard to manage. By switching to a system that’s easy to use, agile and low code/no code – TeamDynamix’s ITSM platform – they were able to meet the challenges brought on by the pandemic in 2020.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced colleges to shift suddenly to remote learning during the spring 2020 semester, IT staff at SUNY Brockport, quickly revised their institution’s service catalog — making it easier for staff and students to find critical support.

Such a swift response never would have been possible with the IT service management platform the university was using before.  “We wanted to be more timely and agile in making changes,” said Director of Information Technology Services Stephen Cook.

Cook and his colleagues are glad they made the switch. With TeamDynamix, SUNY Brockport now has a service management platform that’s easier for both IT employees and end-users alike, a no-code solution that doesn’t require much overhead to manage — backed by a company that is a full partner in the university’s success. Add to that, TeamDynamix costs less to license and operate over time.

“We realized our ‘super’ users cally make those changes quickly for themselves because it’s more agile, with a graphical user interface,” Cook said. “That would allow us to make changes on the fly.”

As a testament to the system’s ease of use, implementation began in April 2019 with a team of four people. By July 1, SUNY Brockport had completed Phase 1 of the implementation process, which included launching the ticketing system, service portal, and knowledge base.

“We had a service catalog and knowledge base already, but we had to recreate these within TeamDynamix,” Cook said. “We did all of that in less than three months.”

Because TeamDynamix is so easy to use, it’s transforming the delivery of IT service at SUNY Brockport. “We’re revisiting our business processes on the fly, which is improving our service,” Cook concludes. “TeamDynamix allows us to do that. We couldn’t do any of the things we do now with our old system without a significant increase in time and resources.”

At Legacy Supply Chain Services, the work to build the right service catalog started in the vendor selection process.

Because IT staff often feel pulled in many directions and time is at a premium, “we try to lean on some of our vendors and partners for help” in implementing new software Keyon Farrier, service desk manager, said.

As part of their implementation process, Farrier and his team found they needed to reevaluate and revise key processes when configuring the platform – especially around creating a better self-service portal experience.

It was important for the team at Legacy to find a software partner that also offered process consulting and implementation services – they selected TeamDynamix for their ITSM needs.

By spending a little more time on the planning, the company was better positioned for the actual migration. With the plan in place, the implementation itself can go faster. “It put us in a better position to succeed,” Farrier observed.

One of the main challenges facing Legacy’s IT staff was the lack of information they had about service requests. “There was constant back and forth to collect more information so that we could support people more effectively,” Farrier said.

With TeamDynamix, Legacy Supply Chain Services implemented a self-service portal—and IT staff have taken the time to build out forms that gather as much information on the front end as they can. As a result, “We’re now able to provide support in a timelier fashion,” he said.

What’s more, by expanding the number of service categories they have, Legacy’s IT team has been able to create more accurate reporting.

“Having better reporting has allowed us to focus our attention on areas that are demanding change,” Farrier said. “We can engage the right individuals to bring forth the right type of change based on the data we’re seeing.”

With more accurate information, Farrier and his team can address the root cause of problems, instead of repeatedly addressing the same types of service issues. “This has been a tremendous help to our overall processes and reducing the drain on our IT resources,” he concluded.

If you are looking for more examples of TeamDynamix customers who have built stellar self-service portals with well-organized, user-friendly service catalogs check out our portals page: Stellar Client Service Portals

This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated with new information. 

Andrew Graf

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